SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea has agreed to turn over the remains of six U.S. soldiers killed during the 1950-1953 Korean War, a U.S. governor making a rare trip to Pyongyang said on Tuesday.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson’s visit comes as North Korea faces a mid-April deadline to shut its main nuclear reactor as part of a deal to start dismantling its nuclear arms program in exchange for aid and better diplomatic ties.
“This is a very positive gesture on the part of the North Korean government,” Richardson said in a statement issued after he met a North Korean general.
He said he met the North’s chief nuclear envoy on Monday and pressed Pyongyang to observe the reactor deadline and provide a list of all nuclear activities and material, but did not say what reply he got from the official.
Richardson, a former Clinton cabinet member who has held talks several times with North Korean officials, will take the remains across the border into South Korea on Wednesday.
The remains will then be transported to a U.S. military facility in Hawaii for identification.
The U.S. Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, which is dedicated to finding the more than 8,100 U.S. servicemen from the Korean War not yet accounted for, said it was sending three delegations to North Korea this year to search for remains.